For track and field competitors, all shoes are not created equal

Holly Odneal from Palisade HS Track poses with some of her track shoes.

Wearing PF Flyers for every sport imaginable has gone the way of the rotary telephone.

Not only are there specialized shoes for each sport these days, there are specialized shoes within each sport.

Take track, for instance.

Palisade’s Holly Odneal competes in the high jump, long jump and the 100-meter high hurdles.

She has different shoes for each event.

Odneal’s doesn’t have an Imelda Marcos complex. She needs different spikes for each event.

“My high jump shoes have (smaller) spikes all the way (across the bottom) because you pound (your feet when you plant),” she said.

As for the long jump shoes, “They have (longer) spikes on the front but they have a little cushion on the heels.”

The longer spikes are better able to grab the jump runway. Long jumpers don’t want spikes on the heel of the shoe when they plant their takeoff foot on the board, however. That would hinder their ability to get height on a jump.

“The disadvantage (of spikes in the heel) is your foot wouldn’t be as flat (on the takeoff),” Odneal said.

Her hurdles shoes are much like her long jump shoes, except they have shorter spikes in the front.

“For sprinting, you want to run on your toes,” Palisade head coach Tim Reetz said.

As with long jump shoes, runners need padding on the heel to avoid getting bruises.

Devon Moore has a different take on the footwear matter.

Moore runs the 110-high hurdles and competes in the triple jump and occasionally the long jump for Central.

Rather than buying a couple of different pairs of shoes (which can range from $50 to $90), he has two sets of spikes for his one pair of track shoes. Instead of changing shoes, he changes out his spikes.

He, too, understands the advantage of having longer spikes for the jumping events.

“They just help pull the ground more to pull yourself forward,” he said. “They grip better.”

Hurdlers and sprinters want traction on the track, but they don’t want the shoe to grip the surface, which would provide unwanted resistance.

High jumpers are often the most superstitious group at a track meet. They have their own routines and their own way of getting themselves mentally prepared for a jump.

A senior, Odneal has used the same pair of long jump shoes since she was a freshman, although she broke down and bought a new pair this week.

She bought new hurdles shoes and high jump shoes last year at a total cost of $120.

“Last year I didn’t like (my high jump shoes),” she said.

She had been wearing her long jump shoes during the high jump competition.

At last Friday’s Phil Wertman Invitational, “I missed on three attempts (at 4 feet, 10 inches), she said.” My foot was just dying.”

She’s going back to her old high jump shoes, which are now lucky for her.

Odneal’s shoe-swap merely confirms the belief that track athletes will do whatever it takes to give them that edge, including wearing whatever shoes they think will help in that effort.

Even if it is just a mental edge.


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